School librarians consistently look for inspiration. Inspiration motivates us to develop programming, supports, and approaches to teaching and collaboration. Inspiration also lets us consider ourselves in the greater world while appreciating those around us. This past month, a simple human kindness shared between three people greatly influenced my life.
Three People in an Airport
After spending a mother-daughter weekend in Nashville, I was the first to arrive at the gate for a flight heading to Boston. Knowing I had to sit for three hours before take-off, I broke open my Kindle and began to read.
A second early traveler arrived and sat a few seats from me. Being the only two people at the gate, we greeted each other. Immediately I noted the gentleman held a military backpack. The backpack triggered my curiosity enough that I inquired if he was returning to active duty. The gentleman indicated he had in fact just retired. But just as I returned to reading in my Kindle, the gentleman indicated he was heading back to Afghanistan as a contractor. He took the time to explain the contracted position and how leaving four children and a wife for a temporary job, although lucrative, was heartbreaking. I explained that leaving my daughter was difficult, as she returned to her new home in Oklahoma.
The gentleman and I got into a conversation groove. We discussed family. We wondered how distance influenced our parenting. We encouraged each other for the choices made to better our families. After sharing a few more travel stories and lively recommendations for Nashville’s hot chicken locations, we began to talk about education, the divides in our country, and literature.
I Thought This Conversation Was amazing but Then….
The single seat in front of us was filled by a young person. Immediately after sitting, we were greeted by an exuberant MIT freshman student. She was returning to Boston from spring break, after enjoying a family visit. Immediately she expanded our conversation to include growing up on a farm. That was very interesting! Next, we talked about biology, DNA, and cancer treatment. The student excited us with her dream to eventually research a specific aspect of DNA toward finding a cure for cancer.
The three of us were engaged in such an enjoyable conversation that before we knew it, our flight was being called. As the three of us lifted our heads, we realized our conversation had created a bit of a bubble. While we talked, more people had entered the gate. Others noticed the conversation but no one sat in the seats in between us. Rather others sat outside of our conversation, listening.
As we rose from our seats, the three of us shook hands and simply wished each other success.
So where is the inspiration? How can a conversation between three complete strangers waiting for a plane be influential? Simply stated, we were just three humans sharing our stories. Nothing can be more beautiful. I see libraries as a place where such inspiration can happen. As the three of us talked, our similarities were recognized. Our differences were embraced and at times, challenged. Our experiences were appreciated. Each of us recognized that our experiences brought us to that single point in time where we could be open.
While we never shared personal contact information, I will forever perk-up when the news reports on a contractor in Afghanistan or advancements in cancer research. Although they may never know this, both the gentleman contractor and MIT freshman gave me the gift of appreciating how appreciative conversation can make a difference. As I return to my library, I can only encourage others to be open and have conversations that matter. Just consider how a conversation can potentially make a difference in someone’s day.
Thank you for reading.
Author: Georgina Trebbe
Georgina Trebbe, Ed.D. is the school librarian at Minnechaug Regional High School in Massachusetts. She is also an adjunct instructor for Simmons University’s SLT program. Georgina’s interests include information literacy, collaboration, and school librarians as researchers.